- The Last of Us Part II’s ending poses a challenge for the showrunners of the TV series as it cannot be easily adapted into a single season finale.
- The Santa Barbara section of the game is too short to be its own season but too long to be tagged onto another season, creating a dilemma for the showrunners.
- The TV show could either have a shorter season 3 consisting of five or six episodes or the Santa Barbara section could be the second half of a larger season split into two parts.
The way that the ending of The Last of Us Part II is structured will create a massive dilemma when the showrunners of HBO’s Last of Us TV series set out to adapt it into the season 2 finale. Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann are currently hard at work on following up The Last of Us’ highly acclaimed first season with a second season tackling the gargantuan narrative of The Last of Us Part II. Since Part II is a much bigger game – and a much more sprawling narrative – than its predecessor, adapting the sequel won’t be as simple as just turning it into a single season of television.
The Last of Us Part II is divided into distinctive sections. The first section catches up with Joel and Ellie four years after the first game, when they’ve made a life for themselves in Jackson, before the vengeful Abby arrives to kill Joel. The second section chronicles three days in Seattle as Ellie hunts Abby to exact revenge, and the third section follows the same days from Abby’s perspective. The fourth section is an epilogue set in Santa Barbara that brings the revenge story to a head. This section is too short to be its own season, but too long to tag onto another season, and therein lies the dilemma.
The Last Of Us 2’s Santa Barbara Section Doesn’t Work As Season 2’s Ending
It’ll Feel Rushed As A Season 2 Finale
In the epilogue of The Last of Us Part II, Ellie has seemingly given up on her quest to avenge Joel after Abby showed her mercy at the theater. She and Dina have moved to a quaint cottage in the countryside near Jackson, where they’re raising Dina and Jesse’s baby, J.J., and looking after a herd of sheep. Ellie is still struggling with debilitating PTSD, but she’s trying to let go of her grudge against Abby. One day, Tommy arrives with intel that Abby has traveled to Santa Barbara. Despite Dina’s protests, Ellie heads to Santa Barbara to find Abby and finish what she started.
When she reaches Santa Barbara, Ellie is attacked by a group called the Rattlers, who she learns have captured Abby. So, she infiltrates their base, finds Abby tied to a post near the rising tide as a horrific means of execution, and cuts her down for one last fight. Although she bests Abby in combat, Ellie ultimately decides to spare her life. She returns home to find it empty, with Dina and J.J. having moved out, hammering home that Ellie gave up everything to pursue vengeance. If all these events were crammed into a single episode as the season 2 finale – even a mega-sized feature-length episode – it would feel rushed.
The Last Of Us 2’s Santa Barbara Section Is Too Short For Season 3
It Would Only Sustain Five Or Six Episodes Max
While it wouldn’t work as a single episode tagged on the end of season 2, the Santa Barbara section of The Last of Us Part II is too short to be its own season. Even if every single scene is extrapolated – Abby and Lev getting captured by the Rattlers, Ellie making the treacherous journey, etc. – it would only make it to a maximum of five or six episodes. It’s not long enough to justify turning it into an entire season 3. Still, it feels like there should be a break between Abby sparing Ellie’s life at the theater and Ellie deciding to follow her to Santa Barbara.
There’s a big time jump in the game, so it makes sense for there to be some space between these two sections of the story as it translates to a TV release schedule. Plus, it would allow some time for the dust to settle, so it seems like Ellie did try to just forget about Abby and move on before deciding she can’t let it go. Otherwise, it might seem like it’s happening right away. The series could just do a time jump between episodes, like the final season of Barry, but that always disrupts the pacing of a show, whereas time jumps between seasons are usually more successful.
How The Last Of Us TV Show Can Deal With Santa Barbara
A Shorter Season Or The Second Half Of A Longer Season?
There are a couple of ways that The Last of Us TV show can deal with the Santa Barbara scenes. It could be a shorter season 3, consisting of just five or six episodes, which would fit with this portion of the narrative being an epilogue. Alternatively, it could be the second half of a larger season split into two parts, like the final seasons of Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and HBO’s own The Sopranos. Either way, it’s important that The Last of Us showrunners adapt Part II’s ending faithfully, because it’s a powerful conclusion to the story and a bittersweet culmination of Ellie’s journey.
Based on the critically acclaimed video game The Last of Us developed by Naughty Dog, the story of the TV series takes place twenty years after a parasitic fungal infection wreaks havoc across the world that turns humans into zombie-like creatures. Joel (Pedro Pascal) agrees to smuggle a 14-year-old girl named Ellie (Bella Ramsey) out of a quarantine zone, only to discover she may be the key to discovering a cure. The Last of Us TV series is a collaborative effort between one of the original creators, Neil Druckmann, and the creator of the award-winning HBO series Chernobyl.
- Release Date
- January 15, 2023
- Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, Gabriel Luna, Anna Torv, Merle Dandridge, Nick Offerman, Jeffrey Pierce
- Drama, Horror, Adventure
- HBO Max